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Porcelain Factories
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illy doesn't actually make their espresso cups. They source out the work of crafting them to the several companies:

  • Richard Ginory (Italy)
  • IPA  (Italy)
  • Metternich (Germany)
  • Rosenthal (Germany).

This chapter is covering history, culture and events of each of these producers.


Richard Ginory

The first cups for illy were made by Richard Ginori. The last illy set made by Richard Ginori was Spirali in 1995. I'm guessing that partnership with illy is ended since Richard Ginory is really exploring porcelain as a art form , working alot on their own design and not mass production. 

History of the Company

Capodimonte porcelain is named for porcelain produced in the Neapolitan region of Italy, (and Spain, for a while), not for a single factory or maker. The first manufactury of this hard-paste porcelain was the Royal Factory, built in “The Royal Wood of Capo-di-Monte” in Naples.

1735 - 1830

The ‘white gold factory’ was founded in 1735 in Florence, in the grand duchy of Tuscany, by entrepreneur Marquis Carlo Andrea Ginori. When the Florentine aristocrat created the factory that was to become one of the most famous makers of artistic porcelain in the villa on the family estate in Doccia, ‘white gold fever’ had just begun to spread across Europe. The early days were difficult, but production soon accelerated. In 1747, there were just two kilns in the Doccia factory, one for majolica and one for porcelain. By 1774 the number of employees had risen to one hundred, and by 1838 there were five kilns, three for majolicas and stoves and two for porcelain, and there were almost 200 employees.

1830 – 1890 Capo-di-Monte Ginori 

capodimonte-mark-1The Ginori family’s success continued to 1896, when the company merged with Milanese ceramics manufacturer Augusto Richard, which already owned many factories in the north of Italy. And so Richard-Ginori was established. Many mechanical innovations were introduced in the workshops during this period, with new Art Nouveau influenced pieces now being made alongside “classic” models of Doccia production. When architect Gio Ponti took over as art director, he revitalised production, leaving a profound and lasting mark.

This version of the Capodimonte mark, (5 points representing a crown, but not drawn as a crown), was used by the Ginori factory in Doccia, Florence. Ginori only represented their porcelain as Capodimonte. It was not made in Neapolitan factories, so at this time it was not “true” Capo-di-Monte porcelain.


 1896 – 1925

capoginoriThis version of the Capodimonte mark with the name “Ginori” under the “N” was used by the Ginori factories that supplied their “Capodimonte-Style” porcelain to six retail shops. One of which was in Naples.

Richard-Ginori produced porcelain used several marks as time passed, but since none of their porcelain was made in Naples, it is only styled after Capodimonte. And like many other porcelain makers, they were just capitalizing on the reputation of the “Royal Factory’s real Capo-di-Monte.”



1945 - 

Richard Ginori

After the Second World War it was decided to build a new factory “closer to the road.” It was to be constructed according to logical, modern criteria at Sesto Fiorentino, and the historic factory was moved from Doccia to here in 1958.

I just would like to add picture of one of the pieces which are currently produced by Richard Ginori. It's real art and beaty.




In 1994 IPA produced the first set for illy. This was special, because both the cups and saucers were decorated. IPA currently concentrating on producing solely coffee cups. They are still producing both "collection" and "espresso" cups for illy at the moment.

History of the Company

1834 - 1925

capodimonte-IPA-marks-168x168IPA is producing their porcelain in the same tradition as Richard Ginori - Capodimonte .
After the Royal Factory closure in 1834, many of the “King’s” artists and modelers split off to open their own studios. By 1925 there were many Italian porcelain factories making Capodimonte-style porcelains, and using the famous “N” and crown. One studio, the Industria Lombardo Porcellane Artistche, (ILPA), founded in 1925 by Signora Carozzi, became dominate.




1925 - 

IPA LogoILPA later grew to become IPA, (Industry of Artistic Porcelain) — a very large porcelain company that began using its own mark in 1967. Both alone, and with the “N” Crown and text. Some other intersting fact that IPA is running their own collection of cofee cups, all collection cups are numbered, similar to illy cups, but the form of the cup is different. Every time cup is design by different artist, on picture bellow cup's design was done by L.Sala.

IPA Collection



The Bavarian china factory Mitterteich started producing cups from 1995 with Prima Collezione and the Facce Italiane sets. In 1996 they produced Videgramma sets. In 2000 they produced Modus Operandi set - the last "illy collection" set by Mitterteich. The bar cups show the Mittertecih stamp, but the "illy collection only mention that the cups were made in Germany.


History of the Company

1867 - 1895 Porzellanfabrik Ludwig Lindner

During 1867 Ludwig Lindner founded the first porcelain factory in the town of Mitterteich. The facility was later torn down during a modernization process and a new factory hall was built at the same location and dubbed 'Fabrik A'; the name stuck until the factory closed in 2006.

1895 - 1917 Mosanic Pottery Max Emanuel & Co.

In 1895 the factory was taken over by the London-based Max Emanuel & Co., represented by their manager Pappenheim. 'Max Emanuel & Co.' actually was a glass and porcelain retailer with a medium-sized store directly in London which had a large network of suppliers and other business contacts. Many renown companies worked with him or sold items via his shop in London, for example the company of Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel (Amphora) in Bohemia. His main interest however remained glass and around 1898/1899 commission Loetz to make 'copies' (based on the shape, not the decoration) of the 'Clutha' glass designs Christopher Dresser supplied to James Couper (thanks to Bradford Braden for this information).

porzellanmarke mitterteichThe Mitterteich factory employed around 360 workers in 1913 and just as an interesting side note it should be mentioned that the porcelain decorator Julius Müller from 1895 onwards - next to his regular job - run a guesthouse (Gasthof zum Lindenzweig) on 'Großensterzer Straße' which was also used as canteen for the workers of the porcelain factory and the guesthouse was also a meeting point for members of the social-democratic party in the area. Anyway, during World War I the factory was expropriated and continued business as a stock corporation. However there is one very interesting question that remains as the main shareholder is quoted to have been Alfred Pappenheimer. A few people of course still wonder if this was a mere coincidence or if either of the last names actually represented an adapted version of the other.

1917 until 2006 Porzellanfabrik Mitterteich A.G.

mitterteichIn the year 1925 the factory employed 300 people, however not much else is known following the transformation. Years later in 1988 a huge fire completely destroyed the 'Fabrik C' part of the facility which was rebuilt. From 1989 onwards the production area had a total of 20,000 square meters again. The Mitterteich. seemed to cope quite well with the overall situation on the German market. But in August 2005 the small city was rocked by the news that the company, represented by the board of directors, had to file for bankruptcy. For the 360 workers (70 percent of these female), it came as a shock. The small hope of an investor being able to save the company was destroyed by the local banks, who did not want to support the Mitterteich facility any longer. On March 1st 2006 the doors leading to the factory closed for the last time. illy is very strict with prototypes policies - they are requesting to send all of them back to them to be destroyed.But since Mitterteich was bankrupt, Mitterteich sold cups directly to the public. That's why so many Mambo cups and some interesting prototypes showed up on the market.

mitterteich china


The first set made by Rosenthal was the special Minimalia set released in 1999 in a cardboard suitcase. Rosenthal porcelain is pricey so this is maybe they did not produce any bar cups and their partnership with Illy is ended. Currently Rosenthal is producer of Versace collection.

History of the Company

1872 - 1890

Philipp Rosenthal, whose father Abraham ran a china shop in the German town of Werl, emigrated at the age of 17 to America in 1872, where he literally pursued a picture-book career. From errand boy, dishwasher, elevator operator, cowboy and postal service rider he became a porcelain purchaser for the porcelain importer Jacob Meyer Brothers in Detroit. Self-confident and industrious he returned to Germany in 1879.

He travelled to Selb, and settled in the former margrave castle in Erkersreuth to found a porcelain painting company in  the same year. The first “bestseller” was the ashtray as “a resting place for lit cigars”. The flourishing business, which had used a copyright protected company emblem since 1887, experienced difficulties with the supply of white porcelain, and so the decision was taken to open a porcelain factory in Selb, where the company began to produce its own porcelain in 1891.

1900 - 1950

rosenthalNo doubt in view of the 1900 world exhibition in Paris, where art nouveau reached its pinnacle, Rosenthal began to focus on this style in around 1899. New silhouettes in form design and on relief ornamentation as well asnew decors and decor techniques picked up on the then current art nouveau trends and were to determine the appearance from thence on. One of the most remarkable forms of this period is the set created in 1905 entitled “Donatello”, a simple geometric form based upon the contemporary style of the era. The cherry relief decor which was predefined by the form itself and adorns the set, shows the underglaze painting

typical of the art nouveau style.

As a seal of quality Philipp Rosenthal was the first private business man to set his signature on the reverse or underside of each product from 1907 onwards. Rosenthal products were presented at the major art and commercial shows as well as the world exhibitions, and very often awarded the highest accolades

While traditional as well as modern forms were manufactured in the tableware department between the end of WW I and the early 1930’s, the porcelain decoration was absolutely stunning with its printed, sprayed or painted richly colorful, stylized, geometric and abstract onglaze decorations. As for the figurines, interest was aroused by works reflecting the spirit of the times, including creations by Constantin Holzer-Defanti, Gustav Oppel or Gerhard Schliepstein. In the early 1930’s expressive objects were still included in the product range alongside naturalistic nude depictions and animal figurines.

1950 -

Rosenthal LogoIn 1950 the son of the privy councilor, Philip Rosenthal, joined the company as advertising manager. He assumed responsibility for the product design just two years later. With a good feeling for products, the market and the public, he shook up the former image of Rosenthal AG and invited famous artists and designers such as Bele Bachem, Jan Bontjes van Beek, Elsa Fischer-Treyden, Hanns Hoffmann-Lederer, Richard Latham, Raymond Loewy, Raymond Peynet, Tapio Wirkkala and Björn Wiinblad to create new designs.

He initiated the new Rosenthal line, the “new look” in porcelain which attempted to integrate to equal extents the Bauhaus tradition and the “kidney-shaped style”, as the Italian avant-garde design for functional articles was known.

These products were characterized by a new modified company logo from 1957 onwards and were sold from 1954 onwards in special, exclusive departments within retail stores both in Germany and abroad. They were also sold in the Rosenthal Studio-Haus stores as from 1960.

From 1961 onwards a consulting, but independent specialist jury examined the practical, aesthetic and artistic quality of a product and voted upon which artistic idea may be included in the Rosenthal program, and would be accepted as an original design of our era.The potential proffered by more than 150 artists and designers kept the Rosenthal Collection alive in the period to follow until today and has created a reflection of the artistic trends of our times.

Everywhere, be it at official receptions, corporate meetings, royal weddings, coronations or other events, Rosenthal porcelainis used for table settings. Services such as “Aida”, “Form 2000”, “Sanssouci” etc have been chosen by prominent figures not only for official, but also for private prestige. The clientele includes emperors, kings, the highest church dignitaries, ministers, ambassadors and envoys as well as political, business and cultural representatives from many countries.

rosenthal versace 


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